The Problem with Mindfulness Apps
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means many things to a number of different individuals. Mindfulness means concentrating in the present moment on becoming intensively aware of what you are seeing and experiencing. It is being completely present, taking notice of the space in which, you are, what you are doing, who is around you, your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Our knowledge and ability of mindfulness is an intrinsic process held by all human beings. It’s not something we can build in a day; we have to learn how to harvest the capacity of knowledge and the ability we already have.
There are several distinct mindfulness practices, all of which aim to cultivate three aspects: intention, concentration and attitude. It is important to have an intention or goal of growing our knowledge and awareness and to be able to return to this state of our enhanced selves. Mindfulness does not arise overnight, it is a phenomenon to be developed over time, intention gives the possibility to develop this and be able to return to this state of awareness. We will find it difficult to maintain a soothing state of mindfulness if we aren’t paying attention to what is happening in our world in the present moment. It is important to pay attention to all facets of our environment, even if it is a small insect that flies across the room or birds humming a tune outside, the more attentive we are, the more rewarding and relaxing our experiences of mindfulness can be. We have all heard someone tell us that we need to have a ‘positive mental attitude’, they are right when they tell us this. A non-judgemental attitude filled with curiosity and compassion will improve our perceptions and experiences of mindfulness or could be developed itself by engaging with mindfulness practices.
No two people’s mindfulness experience will be the same, for similar reasons we can engage in mindfulness, develop similar characteristics, have new and similar world outlooks, but no two experiences will ever be fully identical. The essence of mindfulness is that. We know our experience as an individual is personal to us.
The Problems with Mindfulness Apps
As the digital world progresses, technology and social media have become an increasingly used part of individuals everyday lives, with this is the creation of software, there is an app for all, including mindfulness. The apps are widely available to us and most of which offer free trials or free guides and exercises. Using mindfulness apps makes the concept of mindfulness seem simple. You can have several exercises on your smartphone or laptop with the click of a button, almost all of which you do not need an app to complete and most of which will not really help you or your mindfulness.
Mindfulness apps claim to do great things, such as enhancing sleep, helping with relaxation, reducing anxiety and stress, and the apps provide reminders to complete your tasks of mindfulness whilst giving you complete guidance. Although yes, these are true advantages of engaging with mindfulness, alongside others, these apps aim for the placebo effect and do not directly help us. We feel better about ourselves by downloading these apps, doing everyday breathing tasks, meditation, or any of the other activities on offer. We tell ourselves we are participating in mindfulness because we do it every day and that it works, and it is going to make us a better person. But this is the problem with these apps, they make all these promises and inspire us and maybe we see some results for a short time, but then we stop doing the tasks because we forget, or life gets in the way or we come to the realisation that it is just not working.
Mindfulness apps don’t encourage us to participate in true mindfulness, they want us to believe that mindfulness is easy, and mindfulness can be instructed when in fact it takes time and patience. We rely on the sound coming from our smartphone while listening to the soothing sounds or stories provided to us by the app rather than what mindfulness really entails, which is attending to our surroundings. Using a mindfulness app means that the experience is not personal. A million others may all use the same app and complete the same exercises, just as not all revision techniques suit everyone, not all mindfulness techniques do.
Mindfulness Practises: Candle Meditation
It is advantageous to participate in physical and personal acts of mindfulness for more than adequate reasons without any sort of technology. An efficient way of doing this is through candle meditation. Whether they are simply for decoration purposes or to make our home smell nice rather than marketed mindfulness candles, we all have candles in our belonging. Candle meditation helps the person to concentrate on a real physical object rather than a mantra as they engage in mindfulness, making this simpler for a lot of people. The act of this mindfulness involves planning a space in which there are minimal distractions, preferably lighting a candle at eye level and while concentrating on the candle flame in a relaxed upright position that enables your mind to open up. At first people may consider this boring, some may find it difficult to keep their eyes open without blinking and watering, but the exercise becomes more relaxed and beneficial gradually over time.
Mindfulness candles produce a very calming atmosphere with an often-natural aroma, and candle meditation has many advantages for mindfulness. From participating in this practise, our concentration and attention skills can see a significant change, practising concentrating on the candle flame and opening and clearing our mind helps our skills to grow to new levels. From this practise where the minds are fully relaxed, an individual can often find themselves engaged in a state of deep meditation, this is one of the most intimate experiences one can engage with and can lead us to better sleep and a much more open-minded attitude. Mindfulness candles are not the only way to engage and enhance an individual’s mindfulness, but they are incredibly effective in doing so. Another way to engage in mindfulness is to spend time outdoors, watching the world, knowing how the sensation of what you can hear, and smell can be.
Mindfulness doesn’t require an app, an app doesn’t allow you to focus on the present moment, downloading it helps you to keep up with the trends and time. Just like every other trend, mindfulness apps will soon be a lot of nothing while real mindfulness practises such as candle meditation and spending time outdoors will still be available, even when more knowledgeable mindfulness techniques are discovered. Mindfulness is not a trend; it is a special and personal experience in which a person can participate.